This February 2013 episode of Dan Rather Reports takes a measured and in-depth look at the potential and pitfalls of synthetic biology, as well as growing number of amateur biologists and artists interested in the emerging science. The program also looks at efforts by the FBI to curb the potential misuse of the science. (This program can be purchased via iTunes. A free transcript of the show can be downloaded here.)
In November 2010, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, interviewed microbiologist J. Craig Venter about his work in the field of synthetic biology in a widely seen segment of the popular newsmagazine program. With his scientists, Venter has already been able to map the human genome and create what he calls the “first synthetic species.”
Bay Area synthetic biologists, including Stanford University’s Drew Endy and UC-Berkeley’s Jay Keasling, discuss the field of synthetic biology and its potential applications in this 2009 episode of QUEST. With liberal use of metaphor and laboratory b-roll, the episode lays out the science behind the technology.
David Rejeski, director of the Synthetic Biology Project, Sohi Rastegar, director of the Emerging Frontiers In Research and Innovation Program at the US National Science Foundation, and Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, discuss the promise and risks of synthetic biology (and take listener calls) with Kojo Namdi on this 2009 radio show.
In a 2009 podcast from the Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project, Colin Finan interviews Michael Rodemeyer of the University of Virginia about a report he authored on the challenges synthetic biology poses for government oversight in the United States. Rodemeyer says initial synthetic biology products will be relatively simple modifications of current technology and can be addressed by existing biotechnology regulations with only modest revisions.
Jay Keasling, a leader in synthetic biology, discusses the benefits and ethical concerns regarding synthetic biology and his work on a new anti-malarial drug. “In the future, when we have a lot of ‘off-the-shelf’ components, how are those going to impact our ability to manipulate organisms and one’s ability to manipulate an organism for evil, as opposed to good?” he asks on episode six of this podcast series, Trips to the NanoFrontier. The podcasts, produced by the Wilson Center from 2007 to 2009, largely focused on nanotechnology and were hosted by science journalist Karen Schmidt.
Will the promises and pitfalls of synthetic biology catch governments, ethicists, biosafety and biosecurity experts and the public by surprise? Denise Caruso, a former New York Times columnist and longtime analyst of technology-based issues and industries, discusses this question with Rick Weiss (then of the Center for American Progress) in a November 2008 event at the Wilson Center. The program was jointly sponsored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and the Center for American Progress.
Harvard geneticist George Church discusses his genetic work in this short film, produced in 2008 as part of a series by Necessary Films.